Gaming laptops have come a long, long way in recent years. Due to the necessity of powerful GPUs, gaming laptops used to resemble chunky notebooks that could hardly be defined as portable. Thankfully, in 2021, today’s laptops combine desktop-level performance with slick, slight chassis.
Now that gaming is around for the long term, you can expect to find powerhouse features in the latest gaming rigs. Multicore CPUs, the latest Nvidia graphics cards, and more RAM than you can shake a stick at as well as super-speedy processors are all par for the course in the laptops released in 2021.
If you’re on the lookout for a new gaming machine, or just want to upgrade on your existing one, here are three of the best gaming laptops in 2021 to check out.
What to Look for in a Gaming Laptop
Sure, at first glance it seems there’s hardly any difference between a gaming laptop and a multi-purpose notebook. But, if you could look ‘under the hood’ of a machine specifically designed for gaming you’d notice a world of difference. While most modern laptops can double up as serviceable devices for light gameplay, if you’re a pro gamer or take your hobby very seriously, it’s worth investing in a gaming-specific rig.
Regardless of your budget, there are key features you need to look for in a laptop for gaming. In terms of graphics cards, for example, NVIDIA pretty much has the monopoly with the RTX series offering up the best gaming experiences.
RAM is another important feature that you need to consider when investing in a new rig. Most gaming laptops start at 8GB, but if you’re playing those AAA titles on the daily, look out for at least 16GB to ensure a smooth experience.
It’s also worth looking at the amount of internal storage available, as well as the type of ports a machine has, especially if you love your gaming accessories.
With the basics covered, let’s get on with checking out the top models for 2021.
Best Entry-Level Laptop – Acer Nitro 5
If this is your first time buying a gaming laptop, you could do a lot worse than picking up the Nitro 5 from Acer. A solid machine for those on a tight budget, this laptop offers decent performance, a usable webcam and even a comfortable keyboard.
Sure, it doesn’t have the brightest display in the world, but it does feature an AMD Ryzen 5 4600U CPU along with an Nvidia GeForce GTX1650 GPU, so it delivers the goods and has an excellent battery life too for gaming on the go.
At under $700 (or equivalent), the Nitro 5 is excellent value for money and is a great all-rounder.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4600U GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Display: 1920 x 1080 15.6 inch Storage: Up to 1TB
Best for Affordable Pro Performace – Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
In the world of gaming laptops, Lenovo’s Legion 5 Pro would be considered at the budget end, given that it comes in at under $2000. However, for some gamers, that’s a pretty high-end price, so Lenovo has certainly delivered on premium specs.
Easily one of the best gaming laptops of the year, the Legion 5 Pro is a gamer’s laptop through and through. As well as that powerful Ryzen 7 5800H CPU and an RTX 3060/70 graphics card, the model also has a gorgeous QHD IPS screen reaching up to 500 nits brightness. 165Hz refresh rate and Dolby Vision makes for an immersive gaming experience, while battery performance is admirable.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 – 3070 Display: 2560 x 1600 16 inch Storage: Up to 2TB
Best All-Rounder – Alienware m17 R4
Big, powerful and not to be sniffed at, the m17 R4 from Dell’s Alienware range is pretty much a desktop worthy machine in a gaming chassis. Featuring all the top-end configurations you would expect from this line, the m17 R4 is a high-end machine and that’s reflected in its price tag.
Out of all the RTX laptops released this year, none have been able to match the m17 in terms of performance. That 17.3-inch screen is an absolute delight to look at and the snappy, RGB keyboard is great to use too. Even packing the power that it does it’s pretty lightweight, coming in at around 3kg in weight.
With options for 4K resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a 360Hz refresh rate, this machine is practically made for the eSports gamers out there. Battery life is substantial so you can be sure this behemoth of a laptop won’t let you down during those marathon gaming on the go sessions.
CPU: Up to 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK GPU: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Display: 4K/ 1920 x 1080 3650Hz 17.3 inch Storage: Up to 4TB SSD & 512GB SSD